Leading up to the draft we’ll be interviewing experts that cover other teams. Recently I had the pleasure of having a Question and Answer session with one of the best Raiders blogs on the web. If you haven’t read Just Blog Baby you’re really missing out. The editor Chris Shellcroft is funny, yet very insightful. Here is the result of our Q and A.
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1).Was the Carson Palmer trade a huge mistake?
I don’t think you can view the trade as a mistake when you look at the big picture. No matter what the Raiders were going to be at the crossroads with Jason Campbell this offseason so acquiring a quality NFL starter was a good move. Now the price paid for Palmer and the fact that Hue Jackson swung for the fences and whiffed trying to make a playoff push doesn’t exactly speak well of the move.In that regard the trade was a total failure. You don’t sell off the future to win now and finish middle of the pack ina weak division. I think this season will go a long way in determining the success of this trade. Palmer will have a full offseason of study and prep instead of XBox and throwing darts at Mike Brown’s face. Plus he’ll finally get to take a snap with Darren McFadden behind him. If all goes according to plan the Raiders could have one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses in 2012.
2). So far how do you feel about the New G.M.
I like what Reggie McKenzie has done thus far. He took on a tough task of trying to build a winner on a minimal budget. Some tough choices have been made but most were very necessary. By all accounts he is a true professional with a real vision for the future of the franchise. But that is all offseason speak. The real proof will be seen on the field. So until then his grade is an incomplete. But I like what I see and hear so I’m thinking things will be much better in the coming years.
3). After free agency what are the Raiders biggest needs?
Well, let’s be honest, the Raiders had a free agency period like Miley Cyrus had a childhood. Oakland saw plenty of players walk while only adding a few marginal players in return. McKenzie has been much more focused on cleaning up the cap mess than anything else. The Raiders still need to find long term solutions at cornerback, stronsgside linebacker, right tackle and tight end. Of those needs cornerback and tight end are probably the most immediate.
4). How has the progress of Terrelle Pryor been?
There’s no real way of telling how Pryor has come along. Naturally he wasn’t even able to practice until after serving his NCAA…errrr….NFL suspension. He was supposed to be a part of a few packages during the first week the Raiders played without Jason Campbell last season but that went up in smoke once Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer split a six pack of interceptions. By all indications the Raiders are staying the course with Pryor at QB and he’ll finally get a chance to take some real NFL reps this coming preseason. When you look at it this season will really be his rookie year.
5). What do you expect the Raiders to do with such few picks?
I actually think Reggie McKenzie is loving the challenge of having to find talent with such few picks. His track record in Green Bay indicates McKenzie has an eye for talent and I’m expecting similar results in Oakland. The Packers built their Super Bowl team largely through the draft with plenty of late round picks finding both roster spots and roles. Given the Raiders’ cap situation it will be important to find players capable of contributing in some way from day one. Nobody is expecting a 5th round Hall of Famer but unearthing another Denarius Moore or a Tyvon Branch would be nice.
6). What young players might the team be counting on to fill the needs from question 3?
Certainly all eyes will be on Demarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa to step up and compete as the Raiders must replace both starting corners from last season. David Ausberry is an intriguing talent that Raider Nation would love to see develop into a weapon as an NFL tight end. Joe Barksdale will have a chance to compete for the right tackle job but his rookie season was very hit or miss and included playing more guard than tackle.
7). This time of year used to be great for Al Davis and draft jokes, you have any final send off Davis jokes?
Naw, no Davis jokes. I guess the real joke is on anyone who expected to leave the combine with the fastest 40 time and a Raider contract in hand. Looks like those days are done. The Davis jokes are always going to be around but so too is his lasting imprint on the game. Bill Belichick routinely admits to stealing many of his philosophies from Davis and to this day is the first man scanning the waiver wire whenever the Raiders unload talent. If anything Davis was over zealous in his desire to win, he never wanted to rebuild only seeing quick fixes and immediate needs. Fact of the matter is Darrius Heyward-Bey (a pick I hated) had a breakout year in 2011 and he’s made that whole Crabtree argument a forgotten topic. In late rounds the Raiders have found and developed plenty of top notch talent such as Michael Bush, Tyvon Branch, Matt Shaughnessy, Jared Veldheer, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore to name a few. Davis was never shy about going for broke. When it worked he was a genius when it didn’t he looked the fool. For every Bo Jackson there’s got to be a JaMarcus Russell and Todd Marinovich I guess.
Editor’s note: I wrote this a few times recently, but to me the biggest problem the Raiders had was filling the quarterback position and keeping consistency in their coaching staff. I actually think over the last 7-8 years Davis was seriously under-appreciated as a talent evaluator. There were some terrific picks and I think had they figured out the quarterback position and Davis could get along with a coach for awhile they could have had some really good teams.
8). Are there any players fans seem to be hoping will be available with the Raiders first pick at the end of round three?
I think the guy a lot of Raider fans have drawn a liking to for the #95 pick is Utah State running back Robert Turbin. He’s a Northern Cali native and could be a nice replacement for Michael Bush. Turbin, as you know, shares some of the same skill set Bush did. He’s a downhill runner that can grind out tough yards and make plays in the open field plus he’s a threat in the passing game too. From the wishful thinking perspective, if Alabama nose tackle Josh Chapman slides to the end of the third I’m sure Dennis Allen would love to grab him. It looks like the Raiders will run a base 4-3 but could mix in 3-4 looks as well so they’ll need a space eater in the middle.
9). Anything else to add?
This is one of the more unique draft’s the Raiders will ever have. They’ve only got five late round picks with plenty of needs to address. If ever a scouting department had their homework to do it’s under these circumstances. This might sound crazy but I think this draft could go a long way in determining how the Reggie McKenzie rebuild goes.
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